I wrote of our trip to Iceland in May 2015 when we drove the ring road. This MLK weekend we returned to see it in the winter. The main goal was to see the Northern Lights. Sadly, we never had a clear enough evening to view them during our stay.
Here’s what I did learn about travel in Iceland in winter.
Daylight—The sun rises around 11:00 a.m. and sets around 4:15 p.m. That’s just five hours to sightsee. Our first day we drove out to Vik and back from Reykjavík. We stopped along the way to take pictures of the waterfalls. Roundtrip to Vik is about four hours. We ended up driving back in the dark so plan your travels accordingly.
Roads— Road conditions are slippery in the winter. Be sure that your rental has the studded snow tires for extra traction. The difference is remarkable.
Weather— The weather changes rapidly. One moment we were driving up a hill in a cloud of snow. Upon our descent it was clear again. In other areas the winds were very strong. I was actually blown off a trail on my way to see the Continental Divide. Temps were in the 30s, but the wind made it feel more cold.
Sidewalks—Sidewalks often aren’t cleared leaving them to turn to ice: often on inclines. Be sure to wear shoes with good traction.
Blue Lagoon— If you go to the blue lagoon in the winter, pack a hat. Although the water is at least 100 degrees, your head will get very cold if the wind is up or if it begins to sleet or snow. Freddy wore a shower cap for protection.
Overall I am glad that I was able to experience Iceland in both seasons. Each one is unique, but one can draw a simple conclusion: with or without snow cover, Iceland is gorgeous.